Italian Lakes: 12 View from the boat

August 4, 2011

A long planned day designed to minimise effort but maximise views. The family was now complete and on its own. Eleanor’s friend (who was great company) had been taken to the airport after a final meal yesterday. The plan was to get the lake steamer and do a complete circuit of the lake, stopping off in Riva for lunch. To do this was a little convoluted. It involved getting the fast ferry to Sirmione then waiting an hour for the paddle steamer that heads up the western shore. That allowed for a coffee or two and then the procession of lake side towns started.

First we crossed the bay to Salò by way of smaller ports. magnificent cliffs and a villa on an island which was probably the most idyllic location I saw in the whole holiday. The sun was still low and the air clear which was good news for those of use walking around the decks with a camera (as opposed to those say with books and a drink).   

From Salò we moved up the western shore by way of the picture postcard Gardone Riviera and Garganano before crossing the lake to Malcesine. Garganano has a special place in my affections. Mussolini former house, now a conference centre for the University of Milan (pictured) was the location for one one of the best academic events I have attended. Its where I learnt about exaptation and got exciting about its implications for strategy. The steamer then crossed again to Limone with its terraces of lemon groves before ending up in Riva where we disembarked for lunch. For once the guidebook’s recommendation was not the best, but we took the chance to spend time in the Museum. This was probably the best €2 we spend the whole holiday. The museum is a delight, with multiple floors telling the history of a fascinating location. If we come back, the general agreement is that this is the place to stay; for one thing its cooler than the southern end of the lake!

Some family dissent followed, with all bar one (me) wanting to take the fast ferry back). I wanted to take the paddle steamer again and visit all the eastern towns by way of completion. I offered a double alternative but they eventually agree to put up with my eccentric desire to always return via a different route from the outward journey. I’ve never understood why people don’t share this desire by the way. Now after Melcesine there is not much of interest until you get to Garda and Lazise but at least we did complete the tour. By now it was late and the sun was setting. By great good luck the boat was running late so we got the full glories, one example of which I picture at the start of this post.

I’d recommend this as a good way of spending a day, but you really want to rent a faster boat and spend a bit of time in each port. For that a license is needed, or a good friend with a large boat!

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